Player: Aramis Ramirez
Position: Third base
Current team: Milwaukee Brewers
Contract status: Signed through 2014 (Team option in 2015)
Profile: The Braves began the season with a platoon at third base and have gotten solid, if not spectacular play from Chris Johnson.
Still, the value of adding a slugger like Ramirez might be worth a long look.
Ramirez has been one of the most consistent power-hitting corner infielders in the game for over a decade. Since 2001, he has averaged .290/.348/.515 line with 28 homers and 97 RBI per season. The only thing that knocked his power numbers below 30 home runs and 100 RBI was an injury-shortened 2009 season in which he played only 82 games.
After spending his entire career in the National League Central, this could finally be the year that Ramirez is dealt out of the division. He does not have a no-trade clause protection that nixed deals in the past.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has already indicated that any deals his club makes are likely to be toward building for the future, rather than trying to to salvage this season.
Ramirez signed a three-year, $36 million deal that is largely back-loaded. He made just $6 million of that last season, while hitting .300 with 50 doubles, 27 homers and 105 RBI in 149 games.
His run production is proven, but his price tag in salary alone makes him substantially more expensive than any of the other players on this list.
He is also the only position player appearing in this list, because Atlanta is either financially committed and/or covered in every other spot outside of catcher for at least the next two seasons.
With the Brewers already out of the race, several teams in need of a middle-of-the-order threat will be calling about Ramirez. The possible bidding war could help Milwaukee avoid paying most of the roughly $25 million remaining on his contract.
There is a $14 million mutual option with a $4 million buyout for the 2015 season. The buyout is already factored into the $25 million obligation. That is a large sum of money for any team to take on for a season and a half from a 35-year-old player.
It is not a stretch whatsoever to imagine both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers to be calling Melvin. Their deep pockets could provide financial parameters that Atlanta may not be willing to offer.
Brian McCann, Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm all come off the books following the season, but factoring in the escalating salaries of younger players through arbitration will be important in the years going forward. Not to mention, the money could be spent on extending some of those core players.
Paying the full $25 million to Ramirez may not be an avenue the Braves are willing to go down. His short-term impact on a team that is scrapping for runs more often than it would like may be worth gamble, however.